Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bush Revisited

Bush has been one of those bands that have benefited quite well from the dollar shop pawnshop buys that I have been doing the past few years.   For a band that has never really captured my fancy, Bush will go down in history has coming flying out of the runway with Everything Zen, which is perhaps the best Nirvana rip ever.  Unlike Kurt Cobain, Gavin Rossdale owes a bit more to the classic rock sound to which Everything Zen kinda reminds me of Crazy Horse (don't ask why they just do). My second favorite song from that album Sixteen Stone, the 45 second X Girlfriend.

Throughout their course of history, Bush's British Grunge music sounded perfect for alt radio and modern rock to which KRNA still plays Everything Zen and a couple others from the first album but nevertheless Bush has never been a critic's fave band no matter what they do.  The Steve Albini recorded Razorblade Suitcase was supposed to give them street cred, but that bombed as many a copy found itself into the dollar bins all across America and the problem wasn't Albini's production but rather a lack of songs that took up too much time and not worth remembering.  Deconstructed, was a techno flop, re-imagined the hits for techno dance and over an hour?  Not worth your time nor mine. The Science Of Things reunited them with the original producers who produced Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe back in the 80s but in 1999 it's a different story but The Science Of Things really starts out great with Warm Machine and Jesus Online and even The Chemicals Between Us is listenable for techno, but the rest of the album falters.  Cut the filler down to a reasonable 10 songs and it could be their classic.

Somehow Rossdale and company moved over to Atlantic for the ill fated Golden State before disbanding, Bush forming a new band Institute with Page Hamilton playing guitar and Distort Yourself which also featured Chris Traynor gave a harder edge sound that was lacking in Bush.  Rossdale made a listenable solo album Wanderlust, which All Music calls him the Grunge Peter Cetera (ouch).  Has its moments but for the most part you can live without it too.

And then Rossdale does the unthinkable, brings the Bush name out of mothballs, keeps the original drummer and adds Chris Traynor and makes the best album of their career, the Bob Rock produced The Sea Of Memories to which Bush finally becomes a good hard rock band and not a grunge bunch like they're known in the past.  And against all odds succeeds, thus getting this reviewer to go back and review their past catalog (and not costing me over 8 dollars in getting the back catalog).  For the most part Bush is in need of  a decent ICON collection that Interscope is famous for but since Kirkland Records has been reissuing the Trauma albums of the 90s we probably won't see that happening.  But as for yourself, your better off with Sixteen Stone and the Sea Of Memories  to understand what makes Bush a band to hear.  If not, well, there's better bands to cast your lot with.

UPDATED: Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase were once again reissued via Zuma Rock and I'm sure Science Of Things has been as well  although I didn't see it at Best Buy.  The usual propaganda of Remastered For The First Time (what the hell were the original Trauma/Kirtland CDs were supposed to be?  Remastered is a very very overused term since everytime you burn a copy, you're remastering it yourself).  After a one off with E One music, Bush signs up with Zuma Rock on a Sony Music deal and issues Man On The Run.  If you liked or love Sixteen Stone you'll tolerate Man On The Run although Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains) really doesn't do much outside of turn the recording levels up higher than usual.  If Sea Of Memories was an extension of Distort Yourself, Man On The Run is basically Sixteen Stone Redux but without a key song like Everything Zen to make it memorable.   It's not bad, some songs are worthy of a second or third listen (Just Like My Other Sins, Loneliness Is A Killer) and the original album closer Eye Of The Storm could be an album cut for album rock, if there's such a thing.  But Rossdale will write a song that makes one smirk (Let Yourself Go, is about as dumb as the Breathe In Breathe out rant from Machinehead off 16 Stone) and in this day and age he will not convert new listeners or stifle his critics that like Bush as much as they do Nickleback, so Man On A Run is for fans and followers only.  The album is a tad bit more disappointing than Sea Of Memories, but the key element of Chris Traynor as member of band keeps Bush more rocking than usual, although Corey Blitz is more of a hired hand. Give Gavin Rossdale this, while the critics been after his head for 2 decades and waiting for him to fail, he continues to defiles them all.  Much to their dismay.

Update: In 2017 Rossdale came up with Black And White Rainbows, a somewhat more upbeat album considering that his marriage to Gwen Stefani crashed down beginning with Mad Love and continuing through Water and Lost In You although perhaps Gavin might be thinking more of his new found love, or perhaps a love letter to the remaining Bush fans out there.  The record drags on way too long and too many slower tempo songs at the end kinda makes this a chore to listen through if you're not a hardcore fan.  But it doesn't differ much from Sixteen Stone (to which let's face it will be the album that Bush will be forever remembered); it may have meant more if this was the followup to that album rather than the dull thud of Razorblade Suitcase 20 years earlier, but radio will not bend over backwards to play Black And White Rainbows, Bush's time has come and gone.  They could benefit from a best of.  But in theory, Rossdale has never topped Everything's Zen, that the first song that started a career and he could never follow it up with another rip roaring song.  I still think 2010's Sea Of Memories is their best overall album and Sixteen Stone the only other album you could ever want.  But I'm mostly amazed of myself  to continue to follow the antics of Gavin Rossdale and Bush by buying Man On The Run and Black And White Rainbows, knowing full well they might have a good song or two, but in the end they would stockpile their album with five or six subpar filler songs and lose whatever interest that I have had in the first place.  I doubt there'll be a next time, but I can never write Bush off.  It's a hard habit to break.

Sixteen Stone (Kirtland 1994) B
Razorblade Suitcase (Kirtland 1996)  C
Deconstructed (Trauma 1997) C-
The Science Of Things (Kirtland 1999) B
Golden State (Atlantic 2001) B-
Institute-Distort Yourself (Interscope 2005) B
Gavin Rossdale-Wanderlust (Interscope 2008) C+
The Sea Of Memories (E One 2010) B+
Man On The Run (Zuma Rock/Sony Music 2014) B
Black And White Rainbows (Zuma Rock/Caroline 2017) B

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